UFOs over Arizona
Chapter One: The 1947 Super-Wave
Chapter Two: Sightings: 1960-1989
Chapter Three: The Phoenix Lights
Chapter Four: Landings and Humanoids
Chapter Five: Onboard Experiences
Chapter Six: UFO Crash/Retrievals
Chapter Seven: Current Cases
As early as 25,000 BC, the area now known as Arizona was inhabited by Native Americans, mainly the Navajo, Hopi and Apache. Today evidence of ancient canals, aqueducts and fortifications can be found throughout the state. The first European explorations were done by the Spanish in the 16th century. Mexico claimed the area and reports of mineral wealth encouraged further explorations, many of which were discouraged by hostile Native Americans. It wasn’t until the Mexican-American War in 1848 that the area was ceded to the United States.
One year later, the California Gold Rush caused a stampede westward. Many hopeful prospectors never made it to the Golden State and instead, remained in Arizona where rich copper deposits were being discovered. The industry quickly flourished and Arizona (then part of the New Mexico Territory) became known as the copper state. Only later would it earn its official name as the Grand Canyon State.
When the Civil War began in 1861, the area joined the southern Confederacy. But when the war ended and the Confederate troops were taken, most of the other settlers also left, leaving Arizona again populated almost solely by Native Americans.
The Homestead Act of 1862 encouraged settlers back. During this time, Arizona epitomized the Wild West Era, particularly in cities such as Tombstone, which became famous for its gunfights and lawlessness. At this time, the population was around ten thousand.
As the western population grew, strife increased between settlers and the Native American population. Apaches, in particularly, defended their homeland, battling against ranchers and cattlemen.
It wasn’t until 1886 and the defeat of Geronimo that “the Indian Threat” was removed. By this point, the population hovered just under a hundred thousand.
In 1912 Arizona became the 48th state. Its name was derived from the Native American word “Arizonac,” meaning “place of the small spring.” At this time most of the state was still undeveloped. However, following the construction of the Roosevelt Dam, the state began to thrive. In 1910, the population was 204,000. Twenty years later, it had doubled. By 1950, the population was 750,000. As of 2014, the population was nearly seven million.
Today Arizona produces more than half the nation’s copper. It is also rich in gold, silver, oil and timber. Farming, ranching and especially tourism provide much of the state’s industry.
Arizona contains the United States’ third largest Native American population. The Federal government owns approximately 44 percent of the state.
The geography of Arizona is unique. The sixth largest state (114,000 square miles), the northeast section is part of the Colorado Plateau, while the remaining is largely desert basins and gentle valleys and mountains. Altitudes range from 70 feet above sea level (near Yuma) to 12,633 feet at the top of Humphreys Peak north of Flagstaff. The Colorado River is the state’s main source of irrigation. Because of the arid climate, the state has always struggled with inadequate water supplies. The major lakes including Powell, Mead, Mojave and Havasu were all created by damming the Colorado River.
The Grand Canyon (with gorges a mile deep) is the state’s number one tourist attraction and is visited by more than three million people each year.
It should come as no surprise that Arizona also has a rich and exciting UFO history, producing some of the world’s most famous and influential encounters.
Arizona’s top three encounters are easy to identify. The Kingman UFO crash in 1954 is the state’s most famous UFO crash/retrieval incident and one of the first UFO crashes to be publically revealed. The 1975 abduction of woodcutter Travis Walton in Snowflake in full view of five of his coworkers is arguably one of the most-investigated and best verified abduction cases in U.S. history. But the hands-down Grandfather of all Arizona cases, and perhaps any sighting in the entire world, occurred on Mach 13, 1997 and is known as the Phoenix Lights. On that evening, thousands of people witnessed a miles-wide craft move slowly over Phoenix, moving south across the state and then curving around and heading back where it came from.
Of course, these are not the only Arizona encounters to become famous. Sedona has become internationally known as a UFO hotspot and attracts thousands of visitors every year.
Also, Arizona was the location of some early prominent UFO researchers including James McDonald, an atmospheric physicist who investigated several high-quality Arizona cases and one of the first mainstream scientists to investigate UFOs scientifically, and Coral and Jim Lorenzen who founded the first successful citizens UFO investigative group in which they called the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (APRO). The Lorenzens pioneered UFO research, and APRO became the model for all other UFO organizations to follow. Because of the Lorenzens, many cases in Arizona and across the world were investigated and recorded for posterity.
Combining the statistics from the National UFO Reporting Center (NUFORC) and the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), Arizona has more than 3000 recorded encounters. In this book, we shall cover the entire history of UFOs over Arizona, from sightings and landings to abductions and UFO crashes. We will explore little-known cases, famous cases and some cases that have never been published before.
Cases have been drawn from a wide variety of sources including books, magazines, newspapers, UFO reporting Centers, radio shows, television documentaries, firsthand witness interviews and more. With literally thousands of cases, this book can only provide a small glimpse into the actual number of cases.
So come along on an incredible journey that is sure to change the way you feel about UFOs over Arizona.
Chapter One: The 1947 Super-Wave
While evidence shows that UFOs have been visiting our planet for millennia, it wasn’t until 1947 that the modern age of UFOs began. In 1947 our planet experienced a massive super-wave of sightings largely unprecedented in human history. Across the United States and the world, strange objects were being seen in staggering numbers.
As the military struggled to understand the activity in our skies, ordinary citizens were left to fend for themselves. Because Arizona had relatively low population levels at this time, only a few cases predate the modern era of UFO history. One early case occurred about 35 years before the UFOs arrived in large numbers.
In 1913 or 1914, game warden Gene Holden was riding horseback in the Tonto Rim area in Winslow when he saw a low-flying object approach overhead. It was glowing and appeared to be a huge “silver tin plate” so bright that it hurt his eyes. It moved overhead about a hundred feet up and soared off into the distance. Holden had no idea what it might be until years later in 1947, when the term flying saucer first came into use.
Another early case occurred on September 30, 1946 to fourteen-year-old Morgan (pseudonym), who lived in the tiny town of Dome, 23 miles east of Yuma. At that time, there was no running water in his house, and it was Morgan’s duty to retrieve it each night. The trip was about 300 yards each way, and he had never had a problem.
On this evening, however, he had just started when he saw a brilliant flash. “It was bright enough that it cast very black shadows in front of my body,” explained Morgan. “I stopped, turned and saw what appeared to be a very large object on fire at about 45 degrees above the horizon.” There were no visible wings, no windows and no tail.
It appeared to be about ten miles away, but even at that distance he could see what looked like “structural beams” on the object. As he watched, it moved across the sky disappearing behind Castledome Butte.
Says Morgan, “I told my mother what I had seen, and she said it was maybe an airplane, but I had never seen a plane that looked like that.”
The Super-Wave Begins
Around 11:00 PM on June 10, 1947, Coral Lorenzen (who would form the UFO group APRO), stepped outside on her porch. Suddenly she noticed a glow forming to the south. It increased in brightness until it became of ball of light which immediately zipped upward at high speed until disappearing into the distance.
Lorenzen had witnessed many balloon and missile launches and had never seen anything like this. She later wrote that “fantastic as it might seem, there was only one explanation for the thing I had seen: there might be intelligent life on other worlds, and their ships were the strange things people had reported in the heavens from time to time through the years.”
One month later, on July 7, 1947, around the same time as the Roswell UFO crash, amateur photographer William Rhodes of Phoenix was drawn outside by a strange sound. Hoping to photograph a jet, he was surprised to see what appeared to be a flying disk. It was semi-circular, flat and circling the area about 2000 feet away.
Rhodes quickly snapped two photos of the object, which veered and flew off quickly to the west. Realizing he had just captured two pictures of the “flying saucers” that the newspapers were talking about, he rushed to his laboratory and developed the film.
The two photos came out perfectly. He offered them to The Arizona Republic, who published them on July 9, 1947 under the headline, “Saucer Flits in the Sky at Unbelievable Speeds.”
The story doesn’t end there. Kenneth Arnold viewed the photos and seeing that they portrayed what he had seen earlier that year over Mount Rainier, he publicly declared his belief that Rhodes pictures were genuine. Arnold’s endorsement caught the attention of Air Force and the FBI.
According to Rhodes, the FBI showed up within 48 hours of the photograph being published. Two men presented themselves as Lieutenant Colonel Beam (from Hamilton Field, CA) and FBI agent, Mr. Ledding. They interrogated Rhodes about the sighting and the photographs. Says Rhodes, “They confiscated the negative and said I could get it back soon. But that never happened.” In 1948 Rhodes was asked to come to Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio for an interview, but he declined. Shortly later, further military and government officials arrived at his home to interview him again.
Says Rhodes, “Years later when I called the FBI, they denied all knowledge of the incident.”
The bombshell occurred on March 5, 1985 when the Air Force declassified Air Intelligence Report #100-203-79. Formerly “Top Secret”, the report (originally dated December 10, 1948) presents an analysis of the current UFO situation at that time, reporting on different types of UFOs and speculating on their possible origins and intentions. The report concludes that “some sort of flying object” has been observed. What are these flying objects? The report takes a decidedly hesitant stance: “It is not known at this time whether these observations are misidentifications of domestically launched devices, natural phenomena, or foreign unconventional aircraft.”
Important here is the appendix, particularly Appendix C: “Selected Reports of Flying Object Incidents.” Several current cases are mentioned, including the sighting by William Rhodes which the Air Force conveniently “forgot.”
The report says that William Rhodes “allegedly saw a disk circling his locality during sunset and took two photographs. The resulting pictures show a disk-like object with a round front and a square tail...These photographs have been examined by experts who state they are true photographic images and do not appear to be imperfection in the emulsion or imperfections in the lens.”
Today some researchers have speculated that Rhodes may have photographed one of the actual UFOs that crashed at Roswell. (see photo section)
As the 1947 UFO super-wave swept across the United States and the world, Arizona continued to have its share of high quality cases.
On July 8, Mrs. Ray Wilder and Mrs. Earl Moore, both residents of Douglas, observed a disk-shaped object move across the sky, glinting in the sun and appearing to change shape.
Also on July 8, three Arizona State Highway Department workers had an experience they would not soon forget. At 8:15 AM, Henry Hodges and R.N. Villa were in Yuma when they saw two identical-looking, silver-colored, saucer-shaped craft following one another at a high altitude above them. They called out to their coworker, Henry Varela, who also observed the two objects, which moved soundlessly and at very high speeds. Impressed by what they saw, the workers reported their sighting to the U.S. Weather Bureau, who told the witnesses that perhaps they had seen “a misidentification of the planet, Venus.”
A third sighting on July 8 occurred in Tucson when three men, William Holland, William Harman and Lewis Zesper (a former Air Force pilot) observed an oval-shaped metallic object about 25 feet in diameter move at an altitude of 4000 feet above the mountains to the east. The object wobbled as it moved from north to south.
The next day, on July 9, Henry Vardela of the Arizona State Highway Department reported that he saw two disks fly in single file formation over the mountains near Yuma.
That same day in Nogales, Western Union office manager Guy Fuller, police sergeant Pete Mincheff, Sam Marcus and Arthur Doane all observed objects which they described as “flying tortillas” a local-term used to describe the flying objects which were being seen across the state.
Day after day, the sightings continued. Just before noon on July 10, Mrs. L. B. Ogle saw small glowing orb about seven inches in diameter, hover and wiggle back immediately outside their downstairs window.
At 2:30 AM, July 11, Anna Potts of Yuma, was woken up by the barking of her dog. She went outside to comfort him and instead saw a disk-shaped object zoom overhead. It was moving at high speeds and rotating. No sound could be heard, and the object was in view for only about five seconds, but long enough for Potts to be convinced that she saw a genuine flying saucer. She later reported her sighting to the Daily Sun.
That evening, Mrs. W.P. Hopkins of Douglas observed a disk-shaped object hover directly over Fifteenth Street Park, in direct view of a large group of floodlights.
The wave ended two weeks later when about 25 residents of Douglas watched a small cluster of lights which zipped around the town, circling it ten times at high speed until turning away and disappearing in a burst of acceleration.2
Here's another little excerpt:
UFO Investigates Copper Mine
UFOs have often shown an interest in human technology, as these next two cases illustrate. The first occurred in the summer of 1980 in Bisbee. The witness (a former rocket scientist who worked as a telemetry collector and analyst for the NSA) was at a gas-station only a few hundred yards distant from the Lavender Pit copper mine. Suddenly he had a strange feeling that something was hovering above. Looking up, he saw a large metallic object about 250 feet up, glinting in the setting sun. It appeared to be a metallic oblate spheroid, like a squashed sphere, about 100 feet in diameter. There were no signs of any rivets or seams and looked absolutely perfect. It was rock-solid stationary in the sky. “Do you see that?” he exclaimed to the gas-station owner.
“I sure do!” the gas-station owner replied.
They both stared in awe at the object, which was silent except for a low humming noise. It was so low to the ground that the witness considered throwing a stone at it, but decided that his actions might seem “unfriendly.” Both he and the gas-station owner felt that they were being observed by the occupants of the craft.
Several cars drove by, slowing down as they saw the object and then racing away along the road which led along the circumference of the pit mine. Says the witness, “Nobody stopped, although they could be seen leaning down and forward briefly to get a better look.”
After several moments the craft wobbled slightly then moved at a slow pace directly over the mine for about a mile, then suddenly accelerated at extremely high speed upward toward the Queen Mine near Old Bisbee and took off to the west. Shortly later, the witness left the gas-station and was driving toward Old Bisbee when a jet fighter plane appeared, flew over the mine at a few hundred feet and followed the exact pathway of the UFO. Says the witness, “Our government knows about these things. Who is kidding who here?”
Were the ETs looking for copper? The second case (which occurred less than 200 miles away and a few months later) is remarkably similar. On October 23, 1980 five men in Morenci observed a large dull-black boomerang-shaped object approach the smokestacks of the local copper smelter plant. To their surprise, the object hovered over the smokestacks, sending down a brilliant beam of light into each one. At one point it dropped a small fireball into one of them. After about five minutes, the object moved quickly to the southwest.
One of the men, Joe Nevarez, wished that the object would return so he could see it better. At this point, the men were shocked to watch the object perform an instant reversal. It approached again, this time hovering over the slag dump of the smelter before moving north.
Researcher Richard Haines points out this case as an example of a CE-5, meaning the object’s behavior was affected by the witnesses, in this case, by Nevarez’s mental command for the object to return. The incident received national publicity.
According to the International Center for UFO Research (ICUR) in Scottsdale, throughout the 1980s, a huge boomerang-shaped object nearly a half-mile wide appeared repeatedly over the small town of Morenci. One sighting in particular was seen by hundreds of the residents. The object hovered in place for long enough so that everyone who was outside was able to see it. More than a hundred members of the Morenci High School observed the object, and described it as being “several football fields” in size. People throughout the town also watched it. The witnesses all agreed that it was covered with red and white lights on the underside which swept back in a boomerang shape.
Brian Myers of ICUR says that the same craft has also been reported frequently over the Hopi and Navajo reservations in the northeastern part of the state.